New Year Potluck

with the cool ones at work. I think there was enough food to feed an entire refuge camp.

It was demanded that I must bring the house special, Oreo cheesecake.

Not that I’m complaining. Nothing feels like it when someone requests for a certain dish from you. It makes all the cleaning & washing worthwhile.

Ok not really but you get what I mean.

Happy new year everyone! May 2010 be filled with laughter, health and contentment!

To Sum it Up

Aunty Scroogey has always emphasized that financial planning it not an option, it’s a responsibility. Just last week, the Aunty came across a Business Times article about the retirement village concept. One particular line caught her attention – A recent study by the Lien Foundation revealed that Singaporeans’ greatest fear is to be a burden to their family and friends. Among their top five wishes is to spend their final days at home, but with medical and nursing support nearby.

If you’re like me, and prefer not to add on to the financial burden of your loved ones when you’re in old age, then what better time to prepare yourself for it than now, when you’re robust and healthy? For those who have taken the first step, good for you. For those who would like to start planning but are unsure of what to do, a good way to kick start would be setting aside some money every month as savings. You’ll need a structured, discipline approach to it rather than saving money by the I’ll-see-what’s-left-at- the-end-of-the-month-after-all-my-spendings method. Refer back to this for the 70% 20% 10% method of allocating your hard earned money.

Then there are some of us who have gotten a little further ahead and have accumulated a nice tidy sum from the monthly savings set aside. What do you do with the money in order to make it grow? Well….. until you can answer these questions here , neither you nor your financial advisor/planner can determine what sort of investments would be appropriate for you? Would you much prefer to take market risks or credit risks?

Managing your own money isn’t any rocket science; it just takes lots of discipline – there are people out there who are not highly educated but yet manage to grow their networth to a comfortable level. People such as the secretary and the fruits seller.

And in the midst of all these, if you feel that you’ve benefited from someone’s actions/money/teachings/advice, let’s not forget those who are struggling to earn a living. You might want to think about how you can give back to society, and if you are making monetary contributions, you should ideally, formulate your own guidelines as to what sort of beneficiaries you would like to donate to.

This is Aunty Scroogey’s final blog entry for 2009. In the coming year, the Aunty will be writing more specific topics such as equity investments, bonds, property, charity, etc. Live well, and have fun while on your financial journey.

The Cheapest Healthy Dish Ever!

I know many Asian families have their own hand-me-down methods of making this dirt cheap vegetable dish. Bean sprouts are available in most markets / supermarkets and are so cheap its ridiculous. The above sprouts dish costed me a whopping S$1.10 (approximately USD0.75).

While it is a widely consumed veggie, not many people realise how richly nutrient-fied it is, probably due to its humble appearance. Half a cup of raw, uncooked bean sprouts contains 1.2g of dietary fibre, 31.5 mcg of folic acid and 7mg of vitamin C. Folic acid is especially important for expecting mums as it’s deficiency is linked to cleft palates and neural tube defects.

2 large handfuls of fresh, crispy beansprouts, washed
1 piece of firm tofu, cubed
handful of sweet peas
1 tbsp of garlic, minced
3 tbsp of sesame oil
1-2 tbsp of oyster sauce (depending on preference)
pinch of sea salt to taste

Heat sesame oil in a wok or pan. Fry tofu on all sides, then remove from pan. (*life saving tip: always pat dry tofu with kitchen towels to prevent splattering).

With the pan still heated, brown the garlic and throw in the peas and add oyster sauce. Throw in the beansprouts and give it a quick stir, adding some sea salt if you like. Quickly remove from heat to prevent overcooking.

Always remember that overcooking veggies is a criminal offense!

And there you have it. The cheapest healthy food you can get.

PS: I’d love to hear from you your favourite variation of this wonderful veg. Please!

Gingerbread Trees

Yeah I know it’s a little too late but hey, some people love gingerbread so much they don’t wait for X’mas to savour them! I made this on Christmas eve and the house couldn’t have smelt more festive.

Ingredients (yield depends on your cookie cutter, I made about 32 trees)
110gm unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
110gm brown or muscavado sugar
1 large egg (about 60gm with shell)
2/3 cup full-flavour molasses
420gm plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Sift flour in a medium bowl and add salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until it turns into a light cream.

Add egg and molasses and beat till well blended.

At this point you might see curdles. Do not panic, it’s not the end of the world. Yet.

Gradually add flour mixture in 3 to 4 additions until all the ingredients are blended and the mixture turns into a sticky dough.
Divide dough into 3 portions, cling wrap them and chuck them into the chiller for 3-4 hours or better still, overnight, until the dough is firm enough to be manageable. Dividing the dough into many portions allows you to work in batches. Otherwise once out of the chiller, the dough softens and it will be much stickier and messier.
Now that the dough is firm, flour the work top generously and flatten the dough to about a quarter inch thickness, and (yes finally!) cut the dough with your Christmasy cookie cutter.

Line the deliciousness on baking paper with about 1 inch gap as they expand during baking.

Bake at 175 degrees Celsius in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies), or until the sides turn a little brown, or when the cookies are slightly firm at touch.
Decorate to your heart’s content or if you’re anything like me, pop them straight into your mouths.

Lomo in a Phone

Am not an iPhone application whore but I app-solutely love this one. It takes lomo-like pictures which you can preview, and you can have it as an instant digital format, as opposed to not really knowing how the photo will turn out till it’s developed.

Having said that, nothing beats the real stuff. Not having the perfect picture is exactly what keeps the lo-fi enthusiast going!

Revisiting Resolutions

It’s that happy, smiley and hopeful season of the year. The cheerful spirits of everyone around me is so deafening it makes it difficult to sulk despite my flu, and inspires me to start planning for the spanking new year ahead. As I plough through my memory on 2009′s resolutions, I hold pride that I had not only managed to make it through the year in 1 whole (bigger) piece, but also fulfilled 3 of the 5 goals I set to achieve.

Given that 60% might not be the high-flyer million dollar table (or whatever it’s called) passing mark, it is by my standards. Although I have to say that I was not always like that.

Recalling what I saw on House on cable last week, Dr Wilson laments to Dr Cuddy: “Why do all women do this? They set ridiculously high standards for themselves, and beat themselves up over it. A man in your position would have 2 deputys in the office, a wife, and 2 nannys!”.

I used to be that Dr Cuddy, having sent mission impossibles pacing my life’s corridors, and being always in the battle ready mode to confront them. But as I age, I found that I would rather cruise through the calm seas with D-man by my side and a mojito in hand, taking a much more relaxed approach to life’s objectives and wants. I would now rather pluck the low lying fruit than climb the mountain in search of the elixir of life.

In my terms, a goal or objective that evolves around my own approach to life is of paramount importance. Setting a target for myself, or simply wanting to do something just because others are doing it is surely not only painful but also unfulfilling. Having said that, we are so blinded by the hurried pace of life it takes a lot of soul searching to dig out the mirror that reflects your most inner wishes.

Ultimately we are all heading towards the same Happyland. We’re just taking different routes and means to get there.

I am off to gestate the happenings of 2009 and think / plan / resolutionize for the glorious 2010. Wish me much luck.